Soft Apocalypse

Leah Nieboer

Selected by Andrew Zawacki

Title Details

Pages: 104

Trim size: 5.500in x 8.500in



Pub Date: 03/15/2023

ISBN: 9-780-8203-6369-1

List Price: $19.95

Subsidies and Partnerships

Published with the generous support of Georgia and Bruce McEver Fund for the Arts and Environment

Soft Apocalypse

Leah Nieboer

Selected by Andrew Zawacki

Poems that speculate through our dystopic present in search of livable futures

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  • Description
  • Reviews

Soft Apocalypse pirouettes in the “anemic glow” of late capitalism, its lyrics performing in the civic pocket, in the offbeat, and by arrhythmias that offer improvisational measures for going and going on. Chrome angels, strange beloveds, and cool-eyed speakers cut speculative lines through precarious spaces of the present—deserts and nightscapes, neon-lit strips, corner stores, foreclosures, pharmacy queues, and “crumpled back alleys”—making imaginative economies, queer kinships, and alternative ways of being in the world. Nothing here is done with ease, but irreducible gifts do slip surreptitiously from palm to palm: after all, “we all need a little help sometimes / baby.” Anybody in these poems may use ordinary, embodied matters—“raw materials” and “dream residuals”—to shimmy out of dire, official measures and into “an unmarked rest,” an excess, or any “o vacancy!” where unofficial exchanges may be made.

Soft Apocalypse insistently edges these minor events and intimate apprehensions against the official orders, projections, violations, and isolations of our time. Instead of calculating toward a dystopic ending, this book bets on its softer wrecks, a futurity in an intimately rewired collective.

Dancing inside ‘the discoed light’ of our late, lurid century, Leah Nieboer adroitly imbricates the private and political, minor events with macro catastrophe. At once ascetic and raptured by excess, Soft Apocalypse auditions social, civic, and erotic relationships that aspire to redress the alienations inflicted by capitalism. Set somewhere between Oklahoma and Ophiuchus, this ‘triple-X rock opera’ is scored to an ultraviolet dream stream and an ‘EKG going off.’ Its frayed-wire lyrics, neo-noir prose, and exquisite sequencing are cut with an X-Acto knife fused with acetylene. Conversing with Lispector, Weil, and other intimate strangers, Nieboer accompanies us toward a future where, if we’re unlikely lucky, ‘a wreck becomes an opening.'

—Andrew Zawacki, author of Unsun: f/11 and Videotape

In Soft Apocalypse we find 'cold little gasps of misinformation;' we find 'mismatched confessionals.' In Leah Nieboer’s spirited poetry, we discover a kaleidoscopic interpretation of the real, an unending disruption to thought constantly turning where anything is possible so that nothing is impossible. It’s a bumpy ride and necessarily so.

—Peter Gizzi, author of Now It's Dark: New Poems

About the Author/Editor

LEAH NIEBOER grew up in Iowa. She is a PhD candidate in English at the University of Denver, a graduate of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers, the winner of the 2022 Mountain West Writers’ Contest in Poetry, and the recipient of a Virginia Center for Creative Arts Fellowship. Her writing has appeared in Western Humanities Review, Poetry Daily, Interim: A Journal of Poetry & Poetics, Ghost Proposal, and other publications. She lives in Denver and is at work on her first novel.